Republican state Senate candidate Ralph Alvarado of Winchester on Monday sued his Democratic opponent, R.J. Palmer, and Palmer's campaign consultant, Dale Emmons, for defamation involving a campaign ad.
Alvarado, a medical doctor who lost to Palmer in a close race in 2010, also is seeking a restraining order in Clark Circuit Court to stop the television ad and damages for loss of reputation.
Alvarado contends that the ad uses spliced courtroom footage to cast him as a drug dealer. He is represented by attorney Christopher Hunt of Lexington.
The ad implies that he unlawfully prescribed $3,000 worth of oxycodone to a criminal defendant, Alvarado said. Video from the court hearing is clear that the defendant had a valid prescription for OxyContin, Alvarado said.
Palmer, the Senate minority leader, said Monday that Alvarado's claims had no merit.
"The courtroom video in question demonstrates Alvarado prescribed the defendant OxyContin just four days after the defendant was arrested for attempting to purchase $3,000 worth of narcotic prescription painkillers from an undercover police officer," Palmer said. "The tactics exhibited today are a desperate ploy from a failed career political candidate who seeks to obscure the fact he gave OxyContin to a known drug offender."
Hunt said in a statement that Palmer and his campaign "have chosen to engage in political tactics that cannot be tolerated in a free republic."
He said Alvarado had chosen to defend his reputation not only for himself and his family "but to ensure that others will not be discouraged from running for office or otherwise participating in our political process out of fear of the tactics of politicians like Senator Palmer and Mr. Emmons."
A hearing is scheduled at 1 p.m. Wednesday before Circuit Judge Jean Logue.
Alvarado and Palmer are on the Nov. 4 ballot for the 28th District state Senate seat; the district includes Clark and Montgomery counties and part of northern Fayette County.
As of early October, Palmer had raised about $144,000 and Alvarado had raised about $70,000. Both candidates have run several TV ads in the race.
Ads for Alvarado, who wants to become the first Latino in the Kentucky General Assembly, have concentrated on describing Palmer as an "Obama liberal," pointing out that Palmer was a delegate for President Barack Obama at the 2012 Democratic National Convention.
Palmer, a financial advisor in Winchester who has been in the legislature since 1999, scoffs at Alvarado's ads, saying he was a delegate at the request of the state Democratic Party.
"That's part of the Republican playbook this year, to paint every Democrat a liberal tight with President Obama," Palmer said. "That's ridiculous. They're just trying to capitalize on the president's unpopularity in the state."